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If you've read my rather negative review of the 1997 Geyser Peak Merlot, you may be surprised to find that I purchased another variety from the same Sonoma winery. I was a little surprised myself, but this particular wine had received good reviews from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines, and it was on sale for $20. I needed a good Cabernet to go with the beef stew I was making, so I made the pick.

I loved this wine. One of the reasons I tend to stay away from Cabernets is that the young ones (i.e., the ones that I can afford) are too often very heavy and tannic. But this Geyser Peak wine was very well crafted, with complex tastes and a light tannin structure that lent it some real character without overwhelming the flavors. The wine is a deep purple-red and offers intriguing smoky aromas. In terms of taste, the wine is an excellent balance of oak and spice, leaving a pleasant tang on your tongue and a lingering finish in your mouth.

This is an excellent wine for the price (I believe it originally retailed at about $40 nearer the beginning of 2000), and I will definitely buy a couple of bottles for my meager cellar. But don't get me wrong--this is a great wine to drink now. (However, as it is relatively high in alcohol, I strongly recommend chilling it to at least 60 degrees.) Hail to Geyser Peak!

PS: As to the difference in quality between this and the Merlot mentioned above: I recently read an article which suggested that there is a marked difference in Sonoma grape quality as you move from the better vineyards at higher elevations down to the valley floors.

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